Good newspaper headlines capture the essence of an event or story. Great headlines draw a reader in and make him want to read more. While headlines don’t share everything in a story, good ones express the most important aspects of a plot. Often, the best headlines not only inform readers but also entertain them.
One of my favorite thinking routines for helping students’ capture the heart of what they are reading is Headlines. This routine asks students to write newspaper-type headlines to summarize and express the crux of the matter at hand. We use this routine often in my 6th-grade reading class, and I have found it a useful tool to help me formatively assess my students’ understanding.
In my class students create original headlines after each chapter they read in a text. We sometimes share these aloud in class. Often, we ask the writer the follow-up question: What makes you say that?” Occasionally, I ask students to write a headline for the days’ learning as their “ticket out the door.” We’ve also used the routine as a way for small groups to report to the class on the core their group’s discussion. It’s a useful tool, and I recommend you give it a try to make your students’ thinking visible. Students need practice summarizing and identifying main ideas, and headlines are a good way to practice
My school has eagerly embraced the Project Zero thinking routines, and my sons’ teachers use this routine in their classrooms, also. Creating headlines has spilled over from school into our home as well, and I love to hear my children ask each other for a headline after a family outing or event.
We are on spring break this week and have traveled to Copper Mountain to ski. At the end of the day Monday, as we were riding back from the slopes, my second grader Andrew chimed in with his “headline” for the day. We liked him so much that Eric, Sam, and I added ours as well. I shared them on Facebook as a way of keeping friends and family updated on our trip. The headlines really do capture the heart of our family vacation. So, we added our girls’ headlines and continued writing them at the end of each day. Here they are so far:
Monday, March 11
- Philip: Where’s the Ibuprofen?
- Eric: Up Down Turns
- Sam: First Day – A Success I Say
- Andrew: Cold Cold Colorado
Tuesday, March 12
- Philip: No Longer 25
- Debbie: Not As Bad As Yesterday
- Eric: The Journey to the Top Continues
- Sam: Family Fun Skiing ‘Till the Day Is Done
- Andrew: The Fast and the Furious
- Evelyn: Getting to Ski with Dada
Wednesday, March 13
- Philip: How Did They Grow Up So Fast?
- Debbie: She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain
- Eric: The World of Turns
- Sam: Bittersweet
- Andrew: Tree Trouble
- Evelyn: Skiing Is Fun
Do you think you have a good idea of what our trip has been like? How might you use this with your family or your children? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about writing headlines as a method for capturing the heart of an event, idea, or concept.